I just saw an amazing post and I have to link it right now.
The premise is that the “alchemy” in Full Metal Alchemist is actually usury.
That opens up a lot of interesting perspectives.
1 – For example, the Chinese characters have an entirely different system of “alchemy” than the Westerners!
2 – Some of the most compelling characters have NO alchemical powers and yet they are amazing characters (Winry Rockbell for the win). This corresponds to the notion that one can lead a fulfilling life without practicing usury.
3 – Alchemy is often associated with serious bodily or personal drawbacks, which may represent the human cost of practicing usury. The main character’s teacher is too ill to go on adventures – she coughs up a lung whenever she exerts herself. The main character is a cripple. The dashing romantic Roy Mustang has a major limit on when he can use his powers, and before the show ends, he gets a major physical disadvantage. (This is not a strict rule, I think – it has been years since I have seen the show, but I think that many alchemists had no obvious physical disabilities. Alex Louis Armstrong is an alchemist, and he is the epitome of physical health.
4 – The research into chimera alchemy is a good representation of the human costs of usury. I won’t spoil the surprise. Just watch the show. And then don’t spoil it for anyone else.